THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Party colleagues consider V S Sivakumar -- the Congress’ incumbent MLA in Thiruvananthapuram -- lucky. While the coastal areas had ditched the UDF in the local body elections, the deep-sea fishing controversy has come as a blessing in disguise for Sivakumar. Now, he is aiming a hattrick of victories in the constituency. Though the contest is primarily expected to be between Sivakumar and actor Krishnakumar of the BJP, the LDF candidate -- Antony Raju of the Janadhipathya Kerala Congress -- has exuded confidence of repeating his 1996 victory against M M Hassan from the then Trivandrum West seat.
As a blue-eyed boy of former chief minister K Karunakaran, a young Sivakumar had won the Lok Sabha election from Thiruvananthapuram in 1999. But in the 2004 general elections and the byelection the following year, he tasted defeats at the hands of CPI’s P K Vasudevan Nair and Pannyan Raveendran respectively.
That did not deter him from contesting, and winning, the 2011 and 2016 assembly elections. He also managed to improve his winning margin from 5,352 votes to 10, 905 votes. His promise to the voters of the capital city is that he would ensure the opening of a second medical college, a proposal allegedly thwarted by the LDF government. He also promises to begin the next stage of the Thiruvananthapuram master plan programme and to build a seawall in the coastal areas.
The 60-year-old feels that the debacle in the recent local body elections, in which the UDF won only three seats out of 26 corporation divisions under the Thiruvananthapuram constituency, will not reflect in the assembly elections.
“In the assembly elections, the mandate is based on the ruling front’s governance. People are looking for a change of government. I had provided houses to 72 families in the Karimadom Colony. Priority will be given to provide houses to 1,000 people in the Rajaji Nagar colony, efforts for which was thwarted by the LDF government,” Sivakumar told TNIE.
This is the second time Sivakumar has been pitched against Antony Raju, now 66. After his victory in 1996, Raju is aware of the political culture and the strides made by the BJP during the period that Trivandrum West evolved into the current Thiruvananthapuram constituency.“Out of eight wards, the LDF romped home in seven wards in the local body elections. Sivakumar has not kept his promises to voters,” Raju said.
While Sivakumar and Raju have been on the campaign trail braving the scorching summer heat, their rival Krishnakumar took a day off from hectic electioneering. He was spotted at a house at Valiyavila behind the arc lights, donning the role of ‘Adityan’ for a television series alongside Bipin Jose, another popular actor. They were shooting father-son scenes. Krishnakumar aka Kichu is a household name among television audiences these days.
Clad in a saffron kurta, akin to his party’s colour, the 52-year-old said he wants to provide good infrastructure. “Acting is my livelihood and I can’t afford to default on my EMI payments. Though I took a day off from campaigning to shoot my scenes until April 6, the day the state goes to the polls, I still went and met individuals in the morning. I am not giving any promises to voters. But I wish to provide good infrastructure.”